State v. Elliot
Supreme Court of Connecticut
411 A.2d 3 (1979)
Elliot (defendant) went to his brother’s home with a loaded gun. Elliot broke into the house and threatened his 10-year-old niece, forcing her to tell him where his brother was. Elliot also encountered his brother’s wife, whom he chased when she tried to run to the door. The brother’s wife saw that Elliot was close behind her and then saw her husband approach. Elliot turned around and shot his brother twice, killing him. Elliot ran from the scene and was subsequently arrested. Elliot was interviewed by a psychiatrist about 11 months later. The doctor testified that Elliot was acting under the influence of an extreme emotional disturbance brought on by a number of problems, including child-custody issues, the inability to maintain his home, and a severe fear of his brother. Even though the Model Penal Code was amended to include the new theory of killing under the influence of an extreme emotional disturbance, replacing the common law concept of killing in the “heat of passion,” the trial judge still instructed the jury on the “heat of passion defense,” which required a defendant to establish that his “hot blood” did not have time to “cool off” at the time of the killing, in order to reduce a murder charge to manslaughter. Elliot was convicted of murder and appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in the jury charge by instructing on the heat-of-passion defense, instead of the extreme-emotional-disturbance defense.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Loiselle, J.)
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